Legislative amendments intended to improve the transparency of the Public Utilities Board’s (PUB) process to set fuel prices were introduced for second reading today in the House of Assembly. With greater transparency, the goal is to build a greater understanding of what informs the fuel pricing process. The PUB is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal established under the Public Utilities Act.
If passed, Bill 52, An Act to Amend the Petroleum Products Act, which governs fuel pricing in Newfoundland and Labrador, will be amended to require the PUB to publicly disclose:
· The maximum wholesale and retail prices;
· The minimum and maximum mark-up between the wholesale price and retail price; and
· The procedure for determining adjustments to the petroleum base wholesale and retail prices.
While the PUB’s website currently provides details regarding the fuel pricing process, it is not readily accessible by the public. With these new requirements, this information will become more accessible.
If passed, the Bill will also allow the government to require the Public Utilities Board to publish additional information, as identified and as deemed necessary, to improve the public’s knowledge of the fuel pricing process.
Amendments to the Petroleum Products Regulations would provide additional guidance to the PUB on the information to be released.
The Act currently only provides authority for the Minister of Digital Government and Service NL to require the PUB to complete a review of the benchmark price for fuel products. If passed, Bill 52 will give the Minister authority to direct the Board to conduct a review of any other component of the fuel pricing process, including the various mark-ups charged. In addition, the Bill would allow the Minister to direct the Board to hold public hearings as part of these reviews, providing the people of the province with a direct opportunity to be heard.
“I appreciate the concerns I have heard from residents and advocates regarding fuel prices. While the Provincial Government has established the legislative framework and formula used to set fuel prices, price setting rests with the Public Utilities Board. The proposed legislation is about improving transparency in the fuel pricing process within the current regulatory regime.”
Honorable Sarah Stoodley
Minister of Digital Government and Service NL
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